Atlanta Braves and the trade deadline: insider notes from elsewhere
We seldom get behind-the-scenes reports from front office trade rooms… especially from the Atlanta Braves. But sometimes…
MLB trades have some rules… but they come from an Unwritten Rules book. Even when you try to break such rules, the Atlanta Braves — and everyone else — are subject to whatever interpretation of The Book that rivals may choose to adhere to.
Case in point:
Yes – it’s the old “don’t trade a player to a team within your own division, because there’s a chance he’ll beat your brains in for years afterwards.”
New Marlins General Manager Kim Ng has apparently aligned herself to that philosophy… while we note that her predecessor opted to send J.T. Realmuto to the Phillies.
So that adage held firm… until just after lunchtime on Friday afternoon:
Thanks to some insider notes from the Marlins — including these from Craig Mish and the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson — we do have some further explanations:
"Atlanta-bound Duvall would have opted out of his $7 million mutual option for 2022 if he had remained with the Marlins and maintained his current pace of run production. (He entered the weekend 11th in baseball with 68 RBI).That’s the primary reason the Marlins traded him, because they weren’t inclined to outbid other teams for him this winter."
I have to admit that I’d wonder if Duvall is that intent on opting out of his side of that $7 million mutual option. He is hitting just .230 with a 101 OPS+ (barely above average), and 17 of his 69 RBI this year have come against the Braves (along with 5 of the homers).
Heck, acquiring Duvall might have been a matter of self-defense for the Braves as much as anything else.
Nonetheless, the Marlins are looking for upgrades, and finally decided to go ahead and “opt out” of Duvall’s 2022 contract early… by caving on “the rule” and shipping him 670 miles to the north.
What else were the Braves southern rivals doing?
Glad you asked… another thing Kim Ng doesn’t have in common with Alex Anthopoulos apparently involved talking about secrets with the press. There’s a lot in here from that Miami Herald piece:
- The Marlins tried to swap 3rd-ranked prospect RHP Max Meyer with the Angels for OF Brandon Marsh.
A lot of Miami’s focus this week was on obtaining a “longterm center fielder”. The teams couldn’t get together on the particulars/details for such a trade, but this is a theme: the Marlins are willing to deal pitching in order to get the position players they need.
- Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds was a target. “But Pittsburgh wanted more than the Marlins were willing to consider.
I suspect strongly that the Atlanta Braves may have found the same: Reynolds is under team control for quite a while and the Pirates recognize the value of what they have in him.
- The Marlins are in the market for a catcher as well: they will allow Jorge Alfaro to depart at year’s end, despite having another arbitration year of control available to them.
This may be part of the reason that opted for Alex Jackson from the Braves… though we are aware that — at this point — he’s not a major league catcher. Still: he wold be of use to them as a backup option.
Likewise, though, they picked up catcher Payton Henry, though like Jackson, he doesn’t have the profile of a ‘starter’.
- The Marlins appear to have soured on the long-term futures of both Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison… hence their emphasis on finding outfield help.
- Anyone asking about infielder Miguel Rojas was shut down quickly. They really like him.
- Remember the Fish trading Starling Marte for Jesus Luzardo? Oakland offered prospects, but the Marlins wanted an MLB-ready player.
Alex Anthopoulos had no shackles
Our Fred Owens noted from our podcast this week that a post-deadline interview with Alex Anthopoulos revealed no financial restrictions on getting any player they thought they needed for the stretch run.
That’s entirely consistent with what he’s said in the past… both during trade deadline seasons and with off-season acquisitions.
The hang-up in getting players, then, involves these things:
- Whether the acquisition makes sense from a baseball operations point of view
- Whether the price of acquisition in terms of prospects (or dollars) is worth it
- Whether the trade partner club wants to dance
Prices were definitely on the high side in many cases, and perhaps the fleeting moments in advance of the deadline got ahead of someone like former Atlanta assistant GM Perry Minasian… now head man of the Angels.
Check this from Ken Rosenthal:
"Confusing deadline for the Angels. Considering the package the Cubs landed for Kimbrel, the team appeared in excellent position to secure a strong return for closer Raisel Iglesias, a potential free agent. First-year GM Perry Minasian’s only moves, however, were trades of left-hander Andrew Heaney to the Yankees and Watson to the Giants. Minasian said he was aggressively trying to add, knowing Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh are expected to return from injuries later this month. But he came away virtually empty."
One thought many of us had just prior to 4pm EDT on Friday (the deadline) was that the relationship between Anthopoulos and Minasian would allow the Braves to snag Iglesias, and thus improve the bullpen.
That clearly didn’t happen, and Anthopoulos noted in the interview cited above that the work to get Richard Rodriguez from the Pirates was done just after 3pm… but then medical reviews required virtually all of the remaining hour before both Braves and Pirates could sign off on the deal.
As it was, the announcement of that trade was made thirty-five minutes after the deadline. Ergo… calling up a GM with 10 or 15 minutes to go… that won’t get anything done in this day and age.
They may or may not have impacted Minasian’s ability to make late deals (the Craig Kimbrel trade came late, and that would have influenced the price point for Iglesias), but it’s still interesting to know the kinds of machinations that have to take place when these deals are done.
One thing for sure… after this flurry of activity, this year’s Winter Meetings ought to be fairly entertaining, too.